By: Diane Benjamin
The Open Meetings Act was created to make sure citizens are informed about actions their government takes. Imagine what would happen if all government actions took place in secret and you got the bill for whatever they dreamed up!
The Edgar County Watchdogs wrote an easy to understand version of the Open Meetings Act. We can see, download, and print it here: Open Meetings Act
Now, see this story from November 3, 2016 about the Village of Stanford operating illegally: https://blnnews.com/2016/11/03/more-on-stanfords-actions/
I will be referencing that story in a minute.
Below is the Agenda for the Allin Township Fire Protection District meeting to be held 10/12/16
Compare the Agenda to the minutes for this meeting:
Is there anything on the agenda about appointing a new Fire Chief?
Was the public aware this was going to happen? Obviously not from the agenda!
The October appointment was illegal because it violated the Open Meetings Act. Citizens have a right to know what their government is doing BEFORE they do it.
Now, back to my story above from 11/3/16. The Village of Stanford didn’t commit a small infraction of the Open Meetings Act – they illegally awarded a contract when nothing was on the agenda about it. That contract later cost even more money when the project needed a dumpster for cleanup.
I sent the October agenda and minutes to the McLean County State’s Attorney, all I know now is that Stanford was sent a letter.
Now see the November Fire agenda – magically appointing a new chief is on it. Since many of the same people are involved with Village and Fire business, evidently they got the message on complying with the law.
Doing the right thing in November does not clear them of violating the law in October, but it’s at least a start.